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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2289101
Dan's luck runs out at the blackjack table with a one-way ride to the desert.
Daniel Kalerjian waved his hand in the "hit me" gesture that asked the dealer for another card, then flicked his eyes around the table and surroundings. He was keyed up, nervous as a mouse at a cat show, only two jumps away from being scared spitless. But he needed the money. He needed one more win. Then he needed to run like hell.

He'd been in the casino for three days. Too long, too long. The player card he'd got on his first day had given him fifty bucks of free play because it was his twenty-first birthday. With his telekinetic ability, it was easy to manipulate the slots into a twelve grand payoff, before he switched to blackjack to avoid suspicion. The cards were harder to manage but doable. After playing for three days, with Shelly as his favorite dealer, he was up another fifteen grand, though his fear had cranked up with every day he stayed.

Shelly showed a nine up; Kalerjian was at twelve. She smiled as she flipped his hit card onto the table--a nine.

"Player has twenty-one," she said, then dealt the rest of the round. Kalerjian smiled weakly at his "luck", but his head swiveled like a radar dish scanning for incoming bogies.

None of the other players at the table had a blackjack. Two busted. The dealer flipped her hole card, a ten. "Dealer has nineteen. Player wins." She tossed Kalerjian the chips he'd won.

"Congratulations, Danny Boy." The low growl in his ear, the heavy arm across his shoulders, the waft of ice peppers in his nostrils almost made Kalerjian faint with terror. The sharp prick of a blade over his kidney kept him wide awake. "Game over. Pick up your chips and back away from the table. Make it look natural."

Kalerjian scooped up his bankroll, dropping a couple of chips as he fumbled them into his pants pockets. The player on his right picked them up and held them out to him. "Keep 'em," said Kalerjian. "Thanks for the game. Bye, Shelly."

"Come on, buddy," growled the goon, "we got important people waiting for us."

He wheeled Kalerjian around and marched him off through the slots section of the casino.

"Payback time, asshole. Nobody does what you did and lives. We're gonna take you for a one-way drive into the desert. We'll let you live for a while, but you won't enjoy it."

They were almost to the exit. Three beefy casino security guards slammed into them, one seizing the knife arm, one grabbing the goon in a choke hold, the third slapping a handcuff onto the arm across Kalerjian's shoulder. In seconds, they had him down on the floor and restrained.

"Nothing to see here, folks," commanded one of the guards. "Just a little trouble that's been taken care of. You all go back and have some fun." The few gawking bystanders scurried deeper into the casino.

"But how?-- What?--" Kalerjian stammered.

"Come on, man. Shelly says you always color up when you leave a game. When you just pocketed your take instead of trading in your low-value chips, she knew something was wrong. And the minute you walked away without leaving her a tip, she called security. You're a lucky man!"

Yes, I guess I am, thought Kalerjian, fingering the hole in his shirt. Definitely time to cut and run.

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